Himachal govt in jeopardy as Cong MLAs cross-vote in RS polls | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Himachal govt in jeopardy as Cong MLAs cross-vote in RS polls

Feb 27, 2024 03:30 PM IST

Congress leaders present during the voting indicated that nine lawmakers, including two independents, did not show their ballot papers to their polling agents

Several lawmakers are believed to have cross-voted for Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate Harsh Mahajan contesting the lone Rajya Sabha seat in Himachal Pradesh on Tuesday, creating uncertainty over the future of Sukhwinder Singh Sukhu-led state government.

Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu voting in Shimla. (PTI)
Himachal Pradesh chief minister Sukhvinder Singh Sukhu voting in Shimla. (PTI)

Congress leaders present during the voting indicated that nine lawmakers, including two independents, did not show their ballot papers to their polling agents, resulting in speculation that they may have voted against party candidate Abhishek Manu Singhvi.

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Mahajan, a three-time former lawmaker and minister, quit the Congress in 2022 to join the BJP. He asked the Congress lawmakers to vote as per their “conscience”.

Congress floor managers claimed there could be a tie if the nine lawmakers indeed cross-voted since all 68 lawmakers have cast their ballots. Until Tuesday, the Congress had the support of 43 lawmakers including three independents. The BJP had 25 lawmakers.

A candidate needs 35 votes to win, which means the Congress had eight excess votes, and the BJP needed 10 to flip the verdict. In case of a tie, the winner is decided by a draw of lots.

Sukhu said he expected every Congress voter legislator to vote for the party candidate. “The situation will be clear once the counting starts,” he told reporters in Shimla. “We have 40 MLAs [members of legislative assembly]...and unless MLAs are bought off, we will get all the votes,” he said.

Congress state chief Pratibha Singh accused the BJP of horse-trading and added that some of the Congress lawmakers were unhappy with the government. “There can be a possibility of MLAs showing resentment. The BJP is using its money power for horse trading,” she said, asking reporters to wait until the counting starts at 5pm

BJP leader Jairam Thakur hoped that the party candidate would win. “Many Congress MLAs have crossed voted. The government is in the minority,” he said.

To be sure, pulling down a government requires a formal vote in the assembly.

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